He was built like a tank, and he was undercover in Kansas City's seediest district. Waist-deep in the trouble that came along with the Vice Squad, Seth Cartwright had unwanted company.
After several years, investigative reporter Rebecca Page was finally getting her chance to uncover the truth behind her father's death--if she could swing Seth to her side.
There was no debating that Seth ignited her temper, along with something else at her core. He said he was no longer a cop, though Rebecca suspected there was more to Seth than met the eye. And awaiting them was a deadly secret that KC's most ruthless criminal minds will do anything to keep buried deep forever.
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August 07, 2007
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Excerpt from Up Against the Wall by Julie Miller
"W.I." Rebecca Page read the acronym out loud. "That has to be Wolfe International."
She gently turned the tattered page and read the names and information enclosed there.
Don't worry. Will dec. gibberish at earl.con. unless you get it done first.
DB dead. Removed plant. Kid clean.
Execution confirms suspicions. KCPD will need different kind of proof, however.
Pursue lead to bus locker. DB promised disk. Should name names. Someone on Econ Dev Comm in it up to his eyeballs. Influence certain. Too much money floating around KC. It's here at the docks. My nose can smell a rat--and he's a big one. They're watching me, so I know I'm onto something.
Stay away from this one, kiddo. Just play bookkeeper for me.
Will copy you as soon as able. See you at Mizzou.
"Love you, too." Rebecca turned to the back of the small notebook and looked at the boxes and letters she'd copied herself. It was the last cryptic message her father had left for her. DBD->COM.AF A1/2 AS . Over the last several months, she'd added a spiderweb of names and possible interpretations. "What were you trying to tell me, Dad?"
As always, the answer toyed with her thoughts but escaped her.
She tenderly closed the notebook and lifted it to her nose, inhaling deeply. If she closed her eyes and imagined hard enough, she could still detect her father's familiar scent on the soft, well-worn leather. She could hear his throaty laugh and feel his arms wrapping her up in a warm hug.
But she was long past sitting on the sidelines and playing bookkeeper. Rebecca wasn't a woman given to fanciful notions, nor did she waste her time when there was a story to pursue. She had big footsteps to fill as a reporter for the Kansas City Journal. This wasn't just about living up to her father's reputation and making a name for herself in her chosen career. This was about living up to her father's love. This was about proving his faith in her hadn't been misplaced.
Her artificially long lashes tickled her cheeks as she opened her eyes and steeled herself for the task at hand. The only thing that warmed her tonight was the muggy summer heat. The only scents were the faint, seaweedy smell of the Missouri River and her own spicier perfume. The only laughter she heard belonged to a few of the lucky customers outside the Riverboat Casino complex, waiting for a cab or valet service. The players who'd been less fortunate filled the night air with damning curses and desperate ramblings.
Rebecca watched them all from the front seat of her cherry-red Mustang. Was he the one? Was she?
Who were the big guns with money-laundering and murder on their minds? And who were the innocent bystanders, unaware of the big money, big influence and big cover-up hidden beneath the Riverboat Casino's polished-steel facade and glitzy excitement? They'd all come to the shiny steamship that had once been the rusted wreck of the Commodore riverboat. Renovation and expansion could only mask the Commodore's secrets. A new name and facelift didn't change the fact that her father's life had ended here.
And where the trail of clues he'd left for her ended, her investigation would begin. If she could unlock the details of that last expose her father had been working on, she just might be able to piece together the rest of the puzzle and find out who'd murdered him. Which was a hell of a lot more than those pathetic all-talk, noaction bozos at KCPD had been able to do over the past three years. They'd relegated Reuben Page's murder to their unsolved cold-case files.
Rebecca had no intention of giving up on her father. His memory was all she had left. With her nerve firmly set into place, Rebecca locked the precious notebook inside the glove compartment and inhaled a deep, fortifying breath. Squeezing the university class ring that hung from a white-gold chain around her neck, she whispered, "This one's for you, Dad."